The European Union on Tuesday urged European companies to take advantage of Nigeria’s huge economic potential by creating more investments in the country.
Mr Michel Arrion, Head of Delegation and Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria and West Africa, gave the advice in Lagos south west Nigeria , while speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day international building exhibition, AfricaBuild Lagos 2016.
He said Nigeria was the economic hub of West Africa, and that the country was not aid dependent but investment dependent.
Arrion noted that Nigeria had the ability to surmount the current economic challenges caused by dwindling oil revenue and depreciation of the naira.
“There is a necessity to diversify the economy of Nigeria and the source of revenue for the government.
“I am convinced that the construction industry can play a role in this regard,” he said.
Arrion commended the Federal Government for merging the Ministries of Power, Works and Housing and appointing former Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola to oversee theirs affairs.
“I think it was a wise decision. We know that the minister has already identified strategic priorities in each of the sub-sector which will give impetus to the economic development of the country and help create employment”, the ambassador added.
Also speaking, the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ganiyu Johnson, noted that infrastructure had a direct impact on the ability of any nation to grow its economy.
Johnson said:” The Lagos State Government has consistently devoted a substantial percentage of its yearly budgetary resources towards infrastructure renewal and expansion.
“We recognise that our resources alone will not be sufficient to achieve the Lagos of our dreams.
“The actualisation of this dreams also requires private sector expertise and project management know-how as well as international experience and exposure that this particular forum is expected to provide”.
On his part, the Regional Industry Director, ITE Build.and Interior, Mr Darryl Pawsey, said being Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria is also expected to become one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2050.
Pawsey said: “Overall Nigerian imports increased from $32 billion in 2009 to $55 billion in 2014 amounting to 70 per cent.”With imports of construction equipment and building material machines worth $537 million in 2014, Nigeria ranks among the top four African importers of these technologies, together with South Africa, Algeria and Egypt.
“Nigeria’s construction industry is currently worth $69 billion and employs five per cent of its 180 million population Its construction industry has averaged 9.5 per cent growth in the last five years,” he said.
90 exhibitors from 17 countries participated in the event.
The exhibitors came from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom